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Dr. Ambedkar Society, SOAS, condemns the casteist onslaught on Dalit, Adivasi and OBC students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) campuses across India by denying them access to Post Matric Scholarship. We stand in solidarity with TISS students who have been resisting this systematic stripping of their rights since last year. The protest has intensified in the last 8 days owing to the changes made by the Government to the scholarship scheme, which among others, removes previously held and much needed relaxation on upfront payment of tuition and living costs. We believe that the current issue transcends boundaries of TISS and of time, as this access to education has been denied to Dalits and Adivasis for thousands of years to achieve the larger goal of Brahmanical hegemony and social exclusion. This historic exclusion rendered millions of SC/ST/OBCs –Dumb and Deaf- from understanding, questioning and then annihilating the socio-cultural, economic edifice of discrimination in India.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar metaphorically once said “Education Is The Milk Of Tigress! Who Will Drink He Can’t Stay Without Roaring”, stressing on the role a critical education plays in intellectual enlightenment. Education is the only social capital in the hands of the Dalits and marginalized to fight systemic oppression, and the present move only strengthens the brahmanical agenda of hegemonizing knowledge ecosystems. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s famous advice of “Educate, Agitate and Organize” manifests the emphasis on the role education plays in social justice movement. This deliberate degradation of the scholarship is an #InjusTISS faced by SC/ST/OBC students and is an outcome of the caste problem. It depicts caste perpetration through market mechanisms in today’s India. This change in modality of caste oppression, nevertheless, reiterates the same historical trajectory and demands for an articulation and opposition beyond the rhetorical understanding of this as a neo-liberal, privatization problem.

We further clarify that survival of economic regimes is embedded into the interest of social elites and therefore the identification of affected groups essentially requires an understanding of patterns and processes of social accumulation, and not just sky-falling into neo-liberalism paradigm. We believe that such superposition of neo-liberal precepts only generalizes the sufferings of Dalits, Adivasis and OBCs, and countermands our struggle.

Our understanding of Indian capitalism is firmly rooted in what Dr. Ambedkar had referred to as Brahmanical capitalism: the enmeshing of these social forces of dominance. Ideological and philosophical undercurrents of Indian accumulation can fundamentally be characterized as a race of acquiring social dominance and thereby keeping oppressed communities under the direct control of social elites. If the operational logic of Brahmanical capitalism, comes alive through subjugating SC’s, ST’s and OBC’s, we cannot resort to its unfounded causal explanations.

We firmly once again affirm that neo-liberal explanation and economic causality emanating from it, is utterly insufficient and a flawed explanation for social subjugation of all oppressed identities in India. It must not be used to invisiblise the systematic process of social accumulation and the direct agents involved therein. We strongly reject any attempt of invisibilising the affected groups (here SC’s, ST’s and OBC’s) under the farce garb of neo-liberalism. The new changes to the scholarship schemes in TISS and similar attacks previously in HCU and other universities are to be seen in this context of attempts of complete subjugation of socially oppressed identities. We also condemn the Indian state’s active involvement in perpetuating caste-based discrimination in education and furthering the out bordering of SC’s, ST’s and OBC’s in India.

In this light we support the struggle of TISS students and urge all the actors to immediately end the systemic discrimination against Dalit, Adivasi and OBC students.

Jai Bhim! Jai Birsa! Jai Savitri!

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